In 2022 parents cannot deny the fact that kids’ interaction with technology is practically inescapable. Digital integration is now being seen across most contexts in children’s lives: From education, to social time, all the way to physical activity.
Limited screen time is quickly becoming the policy of yesteryear and what parents and teachers should be thinking about now is how to encourage efficient and productive screen time. This comes down to how technology is administered, and with strategy and a small change of mindset, increased screen time could be wielded in constructive ways. In fact, a new study out of Sweden says, depending on the type of activity, screen time may actually be beneficial for your child’s IQ.
Many educational facilities are already implementing digital tools, and we have seen several countries adopt various technological methods to assist in their learning programs. Digital learning, online learning, and e-learning have commenced the next chapter of education, and there are several benefits as well as things to be cautious about with this digitization.
Let’s take a look at how technological tools can help equip 2022’s youth with skills they will need to glean success in the digital age while also cross-analyzing some of the risks that authority figures should be considering with this rapid adoption of digital devices.
Upscaling and Upskilling Digital Literacy
By encouraging the responsible use of new technology instead of blocking it, digital skill development can occur while learning—turning technology into a constructive conduit. This will help modern-day youth to be prepared for the digital world they will be entering.
In modern-day, students’ understanding of how to work and behave on the virtual interface is a mere prerequisite, and navigating it across different contexts is yet another challenge for them. This is where integrating digital literacy education in schools can be beneficial. By implementing technological tools into learning, students can familiarize themselves with technology as they learn their subjects in school.
“For the youth of 2022, digital literacy will replace interpersonal literacy as the most important communication style to master for success. We are increasingly seeing reliance on digital communications not just for long-distance but even for inter-office communication,” said Jerry Kolber, co-creator of National Geographic’s Brain Games and Netflix’s Brainchild, programs that combine education and entertainment. “Mastering digital literacy isn’t just about technical skills. It includes etiquette, mindfulness, mastering visual and linguistic devices, and setting boundaries.”
There are also several benefits to technological education. Firstly, the digitization of regular text into captivating graphics and visuals has actually been proven to improve the retention of information as well as student engagement. With digital learning, students also gain quite a bit of convenience, flexibility, and autonomy in their education—something that has greatly increased student’s desire to attend school.
With technology kids can choose how to learn about a subject, choosing any digital format that fits their learning style best. Whether learning about topics in school via an engaging podcast, or accessing their study materials online as pre-recorded video lessons—students can learn their way.
The option to employ digitization in day-to-day lessons also allows teachers to simplify learning, using technological aids like video or audio, that can help students understand complex concepts or ideas. This is especially important for students that might have any learning disabilities or challenges.
“The benefits of technology and digital devices in the classroom include the ability to customize information to each child’s learning pace, saving time for the teacher via mass communication of assignments,” continued Kolber. “This provides greater accessibility and equity to students with physical, emotional, or cultural barriers to traditional participation.”
Cautions To Be Taken With Digital Devices
Life behind a screen is not without its drawbacks, and the uptick in digital device usage raises a myriad of concerns for many parents and teachers. According to the American Heart Association, kids under 18 are on screens for more than seven hours a day now. Seemingly overnight, capabilities such as cybersecurity basics, social media safety, and understanding of digital communication across channels have become the foundation of digital literacy—making some students vulnerable if they don’t have these skills.
One of the biggest threats to kids’ increased time online is cybersecurity, as hackers and cyber-criminals can wield technology to steal identities and harass children. Teaching kids the basics of knowing what to look out for and how to be cautious while using the internet is essential for educational institutions. It is also important for parents to continue these lessons at home.
Another pressing concern is the fact that 37% of young people between the ages of 12 and 17 have been bullied online, and 30% have had it happen more than once. This makes it important for schools that are using technology to have responsible ways to monitor their students, and maybe even incentives to help encourage peers to report cyberbullying when they see it.
A final challenging question is whether the huge amount of daily screen time is affecting children’s mental health. It was found that teenagers and children who report more time using media are more likely to also report mental health issues. This has aggravated the fear that too many digital interactions have also stunted children’s social and cognitive growth, so it is important for schools and parents to make sure that there is a healthy balance between technology and real-life exchanges.
“It’s easy to get carried away with the over-promising that often comes from the creators of this tech,” said Kolber. “Rather than seeking radical solutions, use technology to improve areas that students or teachers are struggling with, and test incrementally.”
The Digital Age
Like most things, there is both good and bad with youth’s increased time on digital platforms, but there is no question that the future will be even more digitally-focused than today. That means that it is imperative for both parents and educational institutions to start working the kinks out with technology now, and finding the sweet spot in which digital interactions can exist safely and productively in children’s lives.
By setting appropriate boundaries and modeling good behavior with digital devices, role models can demonstrate firsthand to kids how to interact with the online world. The future rests in the next generation’s hands, and so it is important that the capacities, as well as the limitations, of digital literacy are recognized to help build better education in 2022 and beyond.
Disclosure: This article mentions a client of an Espacio portfolio company.